Q Super: Setting career goals - Michelle Gibbings

Read Michelle’s eight pivotal steps for planning your career and your next career move. This article features on the Q Super website.

“Making a list of your skills and talents can help you see a way forward.”

Setting career goals is just as important as setting financial goals, such as saving or growing your superannuation.

You need to know where you want to go and how you’ll get there, no matter whether you are just starting your career, you are an experienced professional, or you have had a break from work for family reasons.

“Career success is never guaranteed, and past career success is never a guarantee of future success,” says career expert Michelle Gibbings, author of Step Up: How to Build Your Influence at Work and Career Leap.

For this reason, she says, it’s essential to periodically assess your career to determine the gap between your current position and your “dream job”.

Developing a strategic plan

The best way to do this is to apply the standard strategic planning approach and ask yourself: ‘Where am I now?’, ‘Where do I want to be?’, and ‘What do I need to do to get there?’ says Gibbings.

While a long-term goal may seem overwhelming, breaking your journey down into small steps can make it achievable.

She suggests eight pivotal steps for planning your career and your next career move.

1. Check how ‘fit’ your career is

Take a look at your career and ask yourself if you are in a rut, or holding onto an unrealistic, outdated view of your career. It may be time to make a move, or to update your skills.

2. Realise your potential

Look at what may be holding you back from making certain career choices: confidence, skills, lack of opportunity or an outdated idea of what a great career means. Ask yourself what the real purpose is that underpins your career choices. Then upskill or search for opportunities with that in mind. If you are a working mother, realise you do have the potential to have a great family life and a career where you feel you do work that matters.

3. Explore your options

Understand your tolerance for change and identify your strengths to determine options to progress. Making a list of your skills and talents can help you see a way forward. So too can putting boundaries around your work life, if you want a life outside the office.

4. Choose what you will progress

Find your sweet spot: the options that fit with your life circumstances, goals and willingness to take a risk. Consider how you really want to be spending your time and getting paid for it especially if you find you are working 24/7, or sacrificing more and more family time for your career, without any measurable reward or results.

5. Construct your plan to follow

Build your plan to execute your next career move. It can help to set SMARTER goals, suggests Hays Recruiting. These are goals that are measurable, achievable, realistic, timely, empowering and reviewable. “You can then celebrate when you reach a milestone,” says Gibbings. “Seeing progress and acknowledging it helps keep motivation high.”

6. Shape your career identity

Understand how you see yourself and how others see you. You may want to get feedback from a mentor. Don’t be put off by stereotypical views of what women can do.

7. Influence how you enter the market

Build your online presence, make your first impressions count and build a healthy thriving network. This may include networking groups, personal contacts, LinkedIn, referees and recruitment consultants.

8. Focus and make each day matter

Be deliberate about the steps to take each day to help you progress, and stay positive.

Future proofing yourself

As technology changes and automation in the job market steadily grows, it is a smart idea to make career decisions using hard data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics, according to Professor Peter McIIveen from the Southern University of Queensland.

He says trustworthy and consistent data is freely available through the Labour Market Information Portal and has a range of projections.

This includes a five-year option that reveals which industries are going to have the greatest growth in the labour market and those that are going to contract.

In a fast-changing market, Prof McIIveen says the traits of adaptability, resilience and empathy will be invaluable in the future, as will having an optimistic disposition in regards to learning and developing new skills.

Putting in a solid effort now may mean working in a job you love in the future, as well as helping to set you up financially for your retirement.



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